State-owned Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency has published a Tweet of purported previously undisclosed locations of US bases in Syria. The Tweet remains on Anadolu’s official Twitter account, but the Duran has taken the decision not to republish it until a later date due to alleged security concerns.
Turkey remains furious with Washington for its alliance with Kurdish forces in Syria. After yesterday’s confirmation that Donald Trump has ended the CIA’s arming of jihadist groups in Syria and the simultaneous report from Raqqa that an affiliate of the Salafist jihadist group FSA has been withdrawn from the fight to capture Raqqa from ISIS, it became official that the Kurdish forces are America’s only battle-field ally in the country.
Turkey’s relationship with the United States continues to plummet while ironically Ankara has found ways to cooperate with Russia in the Astana Peace Talks, along with Iran which Turkey has also been drawn closer to, particularly in relation to the Qatar crisis.
According to Aaron Stein at the notoriously neo-con Atlantic Council,
“The U.S. takes force protection seriously, obviously.
The Turkish government knows this, and still decided to leak the locations of U.S. bases in Syria. Hard not to see this as a F-you”.
Seeing as the alleged locations of the bases published by Anadolu are all in Kurdish strongholds in northern Syria, it is easy to draw the same conclusion as Stein.
Anadolu insists that the information did not derive from a leak of inter-governmental intelligence, but was instead discovered through looking at Kurdish social media whose claims later corroborated by Anadolu’s investigative reporters.
Levent Tok of Anadolu further commented,
“The U.S. should have thought about this before it cooperated with a terrorist organisation”.
The terrorist organisation in question would appear to be the YPG, Syria’s Kurdish fighters which Turkey condemns as a terrorist security threat.
While the Pentagon has condemned Anadolu for the publication, many of these locations had previously been disclosed.
According to the Daily Beast,
“In fact, Anadolu had already published the information Monday on its Turkish language service and then issued it on its English language services Tuesday. In addition, some of the locations on the Anadolu list were already known in public. The Iranian Tasnim news agency, for example, last November published the names of two bases and two outposts, and the Jusour Center, a Syrian think tank, published the locations of two additional outposts in April”.
Seeing as the majority of the bases in question are close to the Turkish border, it is not difficult to believe Anadolu’s account of the event.
While the information on the base locations could have and in some cases has been published by non-governmental bodies or by governments which oppose America’s presence in the region, the fact that the state-owned news outlet of a fellow NATO state leaked the information is indicative of Turkey’s rapidly declining relationship with the United States.
The timing of the release and the confirmation that America is now exclusively backing Kurdish forces in the race for Raqqa is almost certainly not a coincidence.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.